Laurent Banide dismissed as Al Wasl coach

Frenchman, out after less than five months in charge, refuses to take blame for team’s poor form as Rahman handed interim charge, reports Gary Meenaghan.

Laurent Banide leaves Al Wasl less than five months after being hired as their coach. Satish Kumar / The National
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DUBAI // Laurent Banide became the latest casualty of the Arabian Gulf League’s managerial merry-go-round on Sunday night after less than five months in charge at Al Wasl.

The club issued a statement confirming the Frenchman’s departure, appointing Saleem Abdel Rahman as the interim manager until a new coach is hired. Banide had signed a two-year deal at Zabeel Stadium in May after replacing Bruno Metsu, who had been forced to stand down due to his fight with terminal cancer.

“The management and the coach Banide reached an agreement to terminate the contract between them amicably,” the team statement said. “They have appointed Saleem Abdel Rahman and his assistant Nasser Khamis to handle the team until they appoint the new technical coach.”

Arabian Gulf League clubs seldom need encouraging to wield the axe, but officials at the Dubai club still received plenty of it on Saturday night. In the aftermath of Wasl's listless 3-1 defeat to Al Shabab, the crowd in the main stand vented their feelings audibly and often.

The Wasl fans turned up with banners paying their respects to Metsu, who lost his fight with cancer last Monday. Their attention, however, turned to Banide at the final whistle and they showed their anger at the way their team collapsed after holding a 1-0 home lead against a side reduced to 10 men.

Banide had to accept culpability for much of their demise; with 10 minutes to go, he opted to withdraw Mariano Donda, the influential Argentine midfielder. And yet the former Al Dhafra coach deflected responsibility.

Donda was only playing his fourth game back after a lengthy absence with a serious knee injury, so the manager could have argued that 80 minutes in the humidity and heat was enough. Instead, Banide said he made the move for tactical reasons and to shore up the defence.

Tellingly, the Wasl captain refused to acknowledge his manager on the way off the pitch.

“Everyone knows when a team wins, it is because of the players, and when they lose, it is the fault of the manager,” he said. “The result was a consequence of poor concentration by the players.”

Wasl have taken six points from four league matches this season. They also slipped to successive defeats in the League Cup before the international break.

A 3-0 loss to Emirates was followed by a 4-1 home defeat to Al Ahli. Banide blamed both results on individual errors and stressed that the players must learn from their mistakes.

It appears the Wasl board believed it to be somebody else who was failing to learn on their feet, dismissing Banide within 24 hours of the Shabab humbling.

Wasl have struggled for stability since firing Diego Maradona as manager in the summer of 2012.

After the high-profile Argentine, it had been hoped the meticulous Metsu could bring the success the club’s owners crave. The former national team coach’s forced resignation left a sombre mood in the club, though, and Banide was unable to provide the impact team officials envisioned.